From historic palaces to mobile tents, tea plantation houses perched on the sides of Himalayan peaks to languorously trawling houseboats, each of these luxurious hotels promises a memorable – and truly distinct – stay. Spread across the subcontinent, from the mountains of the north to the tropical south, these venues are as adept at pampering as they are at immersing guests into beguiling local environments. For a holiday spent in style, begin with this list of 50 of the best hotels in India.
Urban Hotels in India
1. The Taj Mahal Palace
Glamorous Mumbai is home to the Taj Mahal Palace © Taj Mahal Palace
There’s more than one Taj Mahal in India. Glamorous Mumbai is home to the Taj Mahal Palace, one of the best luxury hotels in Northern India, whose opulence challenges that of the original. Having hosted kings, presidents and rock stars for over a century, it predates even the Gateway of India as a historic local landmark.
2. The Oberoi Grand
The Oberoi Grand is a treasure-chest of Indian heritage © Oberoi Hotels
Ideally positioned in Kolkata (the so-called ‘City of Joy’), and known colloquially as the Grand Dame of Chowringhee, The Oberoi Grand is a treasure-chest of Indian heritage. Dating to 1880, it’s host to a soaring ballroom, expansive spa, and three different high-end eateries.
3. ITC Grand Chola
The impressive ITC Grand Chola is one of the largest hotels in the country © ITC Hotels
The third largest hotel in all of India, the sprawling ITC Grand Chola in Chennai makes a majestic impression (it’s also LEED-certified, making it impressively eco-friendly). Taking a page from southern India’s ancient Chola dynasty, its architectural splendour is matched by plush guest accommodations.
4. Taj Falaknuma Palace
The historic Taj Falaknuma hotel is set on 32-acre grounds © Taj Hotels
2,000 feet above Hyderabad and constructed in the shape of a scorpion, the Taj Falaknuma Palace certainly isn’t subtle. Within the hotel’s 32-acre grounds, guests will find rarefied art pieces, a library built to replicate Windsor Castle’s, and 60 rooms that are the very picture of grandeur.
5. The Leela Palace
The Leela Palace mixes tropical aesthetics with modern luxury © The Leela Group
The Leela Palace in Bangalore entwines tropical aesthetics with modern luxury. Though certainly frequented by the legions of business travellers who pour into the city, the hotel’s luxury outlook lends it a universal appeal – its Maharaja Suite, catered to by 24-hour service, is quite the treat.
Beach Hotels in India
6. Neeleshwar Hermitage
The Neeleshwar Hermitage profits from Kerala’s coastal scenery © Neeleshwar Hermitage
Profiting from Kerala’s abundance of coastal scenery, the remote Neeleshwar Hermitage hotel looks out on 23 miles of unspoiled beaches. Amenities are on hand to assist in the aim of absolute relaxation, with infinity pools and spa treatments aplenty.
7. Surya Samudra
Surya Samudra is eco-friendly and peaceful © Niraamaya Retreats
Eco-friendly and peaceful, Surya Samudra, a Niraamaya Retreats property, is dedicated to the preservation of Kerala’s natural beauty. That beauty in question, best viewed from the retreat’s cliff-top location, is mere steps from the hotel’s 31 spacious heritage cottages.
Elsewhere is a wonderfully secluded resort in Goa © Elsewhere
Away from the tourist-clogged heart of Goa, the aptly named Elsewhere is a secluded resort whose exact location is revealed only to guests. Refreshingly minimalist beach houses and tents treat visitors to an undisturbed escape from the rest of the world.
9. The Leela Club
The Leela Club spares no expense in curating its luxurious ambiance © The Leela Group
With personal butlers, 12-hole golf courses and ocean-views, The Leela Club in Goa spares no expense when curating its atmosphere of beachside luxury. After time spent outdoors, guests can retreat to the Club’s spa, where an Ayurvedic doctor is on-hand.
10. Marari Beach
Marari Beach is perfect for sand-and-surf lovers © CGH Earth
It’s right there in the name: CGH Earth’s Marari Beach is perfectly suited to sand-and-surf lovers. Here, there are no TVs, and outside distractions are kept to a minimum – what better excuse to spend your days taking in the sea and exploring its 55 lush acres of land?
Tented Camps in India
The Aman-i-Khas wilderness camp brings guests close to wildlife © Aman-i-Khas
Open from October through May, the Aman-i-Khas wilderness camp gives guests the opportunity to get close to tigers, leopards, and crocodiles on safari-style expeditions. After a full day of exploring, Mughal-inspired tents equipped with the luxuries of a five-star hotel await.
12. Oberoi Vanyavilas
Oberoi Vanyavilas borders Ranthambore National Park © Oberoi Hotels
Bordering the enchanting Ranthambore National Park, the Oberoi Vanyavilas resort is ideal for would-be tiger-spotters, as stays in its luxury tents are complemented by jeep expeditions through the forest. Two notable and respected guests are the affable elephants that live on the grounds.
13. Jawai Leopard Camp
The Jawai Leopard Camp is set on the turf of these shy big cats © Sujan Luxury
In the wilds of Rajasthan, the blissfully remote Jawai Leopard Camp sees guests nestle in luxurious, desert-situated tents. This is the turf of the shy big cats, and accompanying explorations and experiences, from game drives to starlit dinners, profit from the stunning scenery.
14. The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Nagaland
The mobile Ultimate Travelling Camp pairs wanderings with luxury © Ultimate Travelling Camp
The Ultimate Travelling Camp does exactly what it says on the tin: the mobile hotel pairs nomadic wanderings with enviable luxury. A location in India’s wild, tribal Nagaland situates visitors beautifully close to Himalayan nature and a wealth of local culture.
15. Taj Safaris
Taj Safaris comprises four luxury lodges in Madhya Pradesh © Taj Hotels
Taj Safaris comprises a portfolio of four opulent yet eco-friendly lodges that number among the best luxury hotels in India. Situated in the most impressive national parks of Madhya Pradesh – Pench, Panna, Kanha, and Bandhavgarh – each offers unparalleled opportunities to spot local flora and fauna.
16. Sher Bagh
Sher Bagh is a stunning, romantic retreat with an environmental conscience © SUJÁN
After a romantic retreat in the wildnerness? It’d be hard to do better than Sher Bagh, which has lately debuted its new honeymoon suites. Even if you’re not a newlywed, though, the luxurious, safari-style accommodation is destined to please – particularly if you value all things eco-friendly. Comprised of 12 tents poised on the edge of stunning Ranthambhore, Sher Bagh has assisted in local conservation efforts for over 40 years.
Romantic Hotels in India
17. The Taj Lake Palace
The Taj Lake Palace is steeped in romantic history © Taj Hotels
Located in Udaipur, ‘the Venice of the East,’ the Taj Lake Palace is steeped in the romantic history of princes and mistresses. Accessible via boat, the floating palace’s cinematic qualities are undeniable. So much so that it was used as Octopussy’s lair in the 1983 James Bond film. Now this is one for your honeymoon ideas.
18. The Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Taj Umaid Bhawan is a hotel fit for kings © Taj Hotels
A hotel fit for kings, quite literally: the resplendent Taj Umaid Bhawan was once the domain of the local Maharaja. One of the world’s largest private residences, the hotel has plenty to see and do on-site…as well as a collection of vintage cars available for a chauffeured luxury tour of Jodhpur.
19. Ahilya Fort
The rustic and traditional Ahilya Fort is ideal for quiet retreats © Ahilya Fort
Rustic and traditional, the Ahilya Fort was made for romantic getaways. Whether sprawled on pillows, overlooking the sunset-lit Narmada River, or sampling cuisine once favoured by the residence’s Maharajas, guests will soon settle into the languorous pace of life in rural Madhya Pradesh.
20. Chhatra Sagar
Comprising 13 private tents, Chhatra Sagar is a perfectly romantic retreat © Chhatra Sagar
This shy little retreat rests on the edge of a historic dam in rural Rajasthan. Comprising 13 private tents, decorated with colourful local textiles and overlooking the water, Chhatra Sagar is a draw for couples celebrating special occasions.
21. Devi Garh
Devi Garh is housed in an 18th-century fort palace © Devi Garh
Housed in an 18th century fort palace just overlooking the splendours of Udaipur, Devi Garh is as impressive from the inside as it is from the outside. The sleek, even minimalistic design of its guestrooms contrasts with the arcades and carvings of the exterior; guests can appreciate both during an evening spent on the terrace, or when dining in the property’s open-air alcoves.
Wellness Hotels in India
22. Vana Malsi Estate
The Vana Malsi Estate is inseparable from its lush natural setting © Vana Malsi Estate
The Vana Malsi Estate is inseparable from its lush natural setting – including fragrant lychee and mango orchards. Its location in rural Uttarakhand beautifully supports the retreat’s mission of wellness and healing, with time spent out of doors accompanying programmes of Ayurveda and Tibetan healing.
Ananda is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas © Ananda
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas is Ananda, a retreat designed to counteract the frenetic pace of 21st century life. Wellness services extend to treatments for detoxing and weight management, while yoga and meditation courses and Ayurvedic experiences treat and pamper simultaneously.
24. Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort
Carnoustie is a yogi’s paradise in Kerala © Carnoustie
At once a wellness retreat and one of the best luxury hotels in India, Carnoustie is a yogi’s paradise, situated on the waters of the Arabian Sea in Kerala. After a full day of treatments and classes, guests can kick back in a private pool villa. An on-site green team is also dedicated to maintaining the health of the resort’s surroundings.
25. Soukya Ayurveda Resort
Soukya Ayurveda Resort is world-famous for its healing treatments © Soukya Ayurveda Resort
Dr. Mathai’s Soukya Ayurveda Resort draws in guests from around the world with its healing treatments. Oil-based massages are tailored to each patient, while ancient homeopathic remedies, yoga and more are all part of the restorative programme.
Shreyas is at once a boutique hotel and a yoga retreat © Shreyas
Part boutique-hotel, part yoga-retreat, Shreyas in Bangalore welcomes a maximum of just 20 guests at a time. Guaranteed peace and privacy, then, visitors are welcome to relax in the Rejuvenation Spa, take Hatha and Ashtanga yoga courses, and explore the resort’s verdant gardens.
Mountain Hotels in India
27. The Glenburn Tea Estate
The Darjeeling-situated Glenburn Tea Estate looks onto Himalayan peaks © Glenburn Tea Estate
It’s not every hotel that offers roseate views of the world’s third tallest mountain. But then again, Glenburn Tea Estate, a soaring property located on a fragrant Himalayan tea plantation, isn’t every hotel – and its views of Kanchenjunga are only one of many coveted features.
28. Vivanta by Taj, Srinagar
The Vivanta by Taj in Srinagar calls beautiful Kashmir home © Taj Hotels
Reputed by some to have been the original location of the Garden of Eden, stunning, mountainous Kashmir is also home to the Vivanta by Taj in Srinagar, one of the best luxury hotels in India. Though you’re far above sea level here, it’s easy to forget given the hotel’s location along the impressive Dal Lake.
29. The Oberoi Wildflower Hall
The Oberoi Wildlfower Hall is situated in mountainous Shimla © Oberoi Hotels
Despite its name, the Oberoi Wildflower Hall is arguably at its most stunning in the winter, when the slopes and evergreens around it are covered with a thick layer of snow. The luxury enclave’s fireplaces and plush beds beckon, while its open-air Jacuzzi offers incredible Himalayan views.
30. Vivanta by Taj, Coorg
The green mountains of Coorg are celebrated at the Vivanta by Taj © Taj Hotels
The green and lovely mountains of Coorg in South India may not be Himalayan in scope, but the Vivanta by Taj takes full advantage of its more than photogenic rainforest backdrop, with minimalistic décor and buildings that open to the surrounding scenery (which comprises a strawberry farm, outdoor pool, natural spring, and Buddha garden, to start).
31. Ultimate Travelling Camp, Thiksey
The Ultimate Travelling Camp explores remote and wild Ladakh © Ultimate Travelling Camp
It doesn’t get much more remote – or more visually impressive – than the wilds of Ladakh, a windswept province in Jammu and Kashmir state. Guests are situated directly in nature at the Ultimate Travelling Camp, which offers tents as luxurious as they are mobile.
Desert Hotels in India
32. The Serai
The Serai is an oasis in the golden Thar Desert © The Serai
Just outside of historic Jaisalmer, The Serai is an oasis amidst the golden sands of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert. Comprising luxurious tented suites, it’s open to nature but still offers plenty of comforts, including a temperature-controlled dip pool (ideal for nighttime stargazing sessions).
33. Sonaar Haveli
Jaisalmer is the stunning backdrop for the Sonaar Haveli © Mynamenot/iStock/Thinkstock
The newly opened Sonaar Haveli in Jaisalmer evokes past eras of princely splendour from within its stylishly designed, sparkling interior. Everywhere, the wealth of the region’s history is present: from the suites, bedecked in opulent patterns and marble, to the rooftop restaurant where rich Rajasthani fare is served.
34. Mihir Garh
Mihir Garh has been named one of the world’s most extraordinary hotels © Mihir Garh
Hotel or fortress of palatial scope? Named by Lonely Planet last year as the world’s most extraordinary hotel, Mihir Garh was only built in 2009, but wouldn’t have looked out of place in Rajasthan hundreds of years ago. With only nine suites, the property, undoubtedly one of the best luxury hotels India, guarantees guests sumptuous privacy.
35. Raas Jodhpur
Raas Jodhpur offers incredible views of the Mehrangarh Fort © Raas Jodhpur
Housed within a restored haveli that originally dates to the 1700s, Raas Jodhpur mixes historic aesthetics with swanky modernity. Inside, the look is hip, minimalistic, and thoroughly contemporary, while views from the outdoor restaurant and rooftop bar give onto the Mehrangarh Fort, golden-hued come sunset.
36. Osian Sand Dunes
Osian Sand Dunes are located at an old Silk Road stop in Rajasthan © Osian Sand Dunes
Located deep in the Thar Desert, at what was once a Silk Road stop dating to the 8th century, the Osian Sand Dunes retreat is inextricable from the history and beauty of its surroundings. Accessibly located from the region’s many temples, the hotel consists of a resort as well as a small number of private tents made for glampers.
Palace Hotels in India
37. The Taj Rambagh Palace
The Taj Rambagh Palace was originally a 19th-century royal residence © Taj Hotels
For a suitably indulgent getaway, guests can follow in the footsteps of the Maharaja at the Taj Rambagh Palace. Originally a royal residence built in the mid- 19th century, the palace today stands as a glorious testament to historic Indian hospitality.
38. Samode Palace
The Samode Palace attracts celebrities and royalty © Samode Hotels
Visitors to the Samode Palace in Rajasthan could find themselves rubbing shoulders with celebrities and royalty; such is the prestige of the place. Elephant polo takes place on the grounds, the swimming pool is made from gleaming marble, and the rooms are just as sumptuous as you’d expect.
39. Chomu Palace Hotel
The opulent Chomu Palace Hotel has 300 years of history © Chomu Palace Hotel
In Rajasthan, age is often a virtue, and at more than 300 years old, the Chomu Palace Hotel is certainly esteemed. For proof, just turn to the opulent dining room, the verdant courtyard, and the edifice of the palace itself, filigreed with stunning carvings.
40. Rajmahal Palace
The recently opened Rajmahal Palace is a magnet for luxury seekers © Sujan Luxury
Guests after pomp won’t have to look much further than the utterly opulent Rajmahal Palace. The recently opened property is already a fast favourite amongst Rajasthani travellers after a royal touch, given its lovely gardens, marble staircase, and small clutch of luxurious suites.
41. Udai Bilas Palace
The Udai Bilas Palace evokes 19th century Rajasthani luxury © Udai Bilas Palace
Sandwiched between the blue waters of the Gaibsagar Lake and a private forest reserve, the Udai Bilas Palace is as pretty as a film set. From within the palace, guests will find carved marble, pattern-rich rooms and other touches evocative of 19th century Rajasthan.
Eco Hotels in India
42. Spice Village
Spice Village is the modern reimagining of a tribal village © CGH Earth
CGH Earth’s Spice Village, set in mist-shrouded mountains of Kerala, is billed as the modern reimagining of a tribal village. With that in mind, guests will uncover a mix of rusticity and ultimate luxury in its traditional-style huts, soundtracked by the birds, monkeys, and other species that call the area home.
43. ITC Maurya
The high-end ITC Maurya is also LEED Platinum ceritifed © ITC Hotels
Care about your carbon-footprint? Delhi’s high-end ITC Maurya has the distinction of being the first LEED Platinum certified hotel in an existing building, meaning that alongside five-star touches like butler service and a cushy spa are environmentally friendly add-ons.
44. Coconut Lagoon
Coconut Lagoon is found in restored, 150 year-old mansions © CGH Earth
Housed in traditional, 150 year-old mansions restored by specialised local craftsmen, Kerala’s Coconut Lagoon devotes a quarter of its land to rice cultivation, while local forests are protected in “sacred groves” and waterways are made for meditative canoeing expeditions.
45. Dune Eco Village & Spa
The Dune Eco Village abuts a picturesque beach in Puducherry © Dune Eco Group
Located on 35 private acres abutting the picturesque beach near romantic Puducherry, the Dune Eco Village & Spa welcomes surf seekers with its location, creative types with its Artists in Residence programme, and spa lovers with its Ayurvedic treatments. And for the private? One of 55 personal bungalows.
Family Friendly Hotels in India
46. Samode Safari Lodge
The Samode Safari Lodge is found in the heart of tiger country © Samode Hotels
In the heart of tiger country, Samode Safari Lodge is perfect for kids looking to spot local wildlife: from leopards and sloth bears to lizards and jungle cats, it offers a wealth of natural sights to discover. For adults, spa treatments, a heated swimming pool, and cooking classes are only some of the temptations.
47. Vivanta by Taj Holiday Village, Goa
The Vivanta by Taj Holiday Village is ideal for sun-seekers © Taj Hotels
Referencing both Goa’s beachy culture as well as its rich Portuguese heritage, the Vivanta by Taj Holiday Village in Goa is ideal for sun seekers. The hotel caters to children with adventure trails, a kid’s cookhouse, air hockey, and other fun pursuits, while menus for young ones ensure the hotel’s high-end restaurants are suitable for all.
48. Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa
The Park Hyatt Goa is set on a stretch of photogenic coastline © Park Hyatt Hotels
Set on an expansive stretch of photogenic coastline, the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa is home to India’s largest swimming pool, complete with waterslides. After a family day out, children can be looked after by the hotel’s babysitting services, while parents can enjoy the seven restaurants and bars on-site, as well as Ayurvedic treatments at the Sereno Spa.
49. The Oberoi Rajvilas
The Oberoi Rajvilas is a luxury haven in Rajasthan © Oberoi Hotels
Set on 32 acres, the Oberoi Rajvilas retreat is a luxurious haven in the midst of Rajasthan, where visitors can travel via elephant safari and begin mornings with yoga and meditation sessions. Clustered rooms cater to families, while flower-filled private courtyards offer a beautifully tranquil place to take a breather.
50. Lotus House Boat
The Lotus House Boat trawls the scenic backwaters of Kerala © Lotus House Boat
Trawling up the backwaters of Kerala, the Lotus House Boat is modelled on traditional Keralan rice barges. Consisting of just two suites, it offers a tranquil, slow-paced holiday, and soporific amblings that are certain to relax.